This weekend why not plan out your responsibilities for the holidays. Then when it's time to celebrate, you can enjoy the fun with little or no stress. (Photo: andresrimaging/GettyImages)

Believe it or not, the holiday season does not have to be frenetic and frustrating. Find out the stress-free secret. (Photo: andresrimaging/Getty Images)

In case you haven’t noticed yet — Christmas is here! Well, almost. For many of us, the next few weeks will evaporate in an exhausted haze of partly planning, shopping trips, meal preparation, stress and exhaustion.

Believe it or not, the holiday season does not have to be frenetic and frustrating. You can celebrate and still wake up on Jan. 2nd fresh, rested and excited about a new year. The secret: Planning.

Here are a few tips for protecting your physical and mental health by removing the anxiety from holiday preparations:

  • Shop early. Complete any catalog or online holiday ordering by the end of the second week of November.
  • Dust off the holiday decorations this weekend. Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to find out that 5-year-old strand of lights is not working. Test it now, and decide what you are putting up this year.
  • Mark the calendar. Call friends and family this weekend, and get the parties and other obligations on your calendar now. That way, you can start thinking about hostess gifts (think stocking stuffers) and outfits way ahead of time.
  • Stock the kitchen. If you’re the cook this year, this weekend is a great time to pick up staples like canned goods, muffin mixes, frozen items — basically any part of your holiday dinner that does not have to be purchased fresh.
  • Pick up the cards. On Sunday afternoon, stroll through a card store and pick up whatever you plan to send out this season. Start addressing them and promise yourself you will be done by Thanksgiving.
  • Prep for guests. If the brood is staying at your place this year, this is the perfect time to check the air mattress for holes, look over the linen and lay out a plan for who will be sleeping in the guest room and who gets the couch.
  • Get a deal. Advance purchases can save you a bundle if you buy before Black Friday, so go online this weekend and challenge yourself to see how many gifts you can knock off the list.

Happy holidays …

About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being

We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.